make a paper doll

There are many ways to make a paper doll. Depending on your abilities and preferences, you may gravitate to one type or the other. As for me, I choose to surrender to nostalgia and whip up a cut out doll with the cute paper outfits which “hook” onto the doll’s edges.

Sounds like a lot? I assure you, it isn’t.

Confession time; I did ketch meh nenen to get this blogpost ready. On the first attempt, I made a doll with an “elegant” neck, unbeknownst to me that she would suffer a lumbar fracture to the C5 vertebrae (at the hands of an overly excited 4 year old lad) mere minutes after her instagram photoshoot.

The second take boasted a formidable neck but was stolen, naked and afraid before any pictures could be procured. This post bares the fruit of the third take; of course, these too were comandeered by my youngest two shortly after they graced the camera lens.

Lessons learned?

  1. Paper dolls are a great way to capture and retain my children’s attention for a couple of hours
  2. If I wish to keep a doll for myself, I must complete it during school hours and make haste to conceal it

What You’ll Need

To make a doll like mine, you’ll need:

  • brown cardstock (I’ve used the insides of an ice-cream cone box)
  • a pencil (to draw)
  • 1 sheet of copy/computer paper (to make outfits)
  • coloured pencils (or any other colouring implements)
  • a pair of scissors

Doll-making Steps

Firstly, we’ll draw and cut out the doll:

  1. Using the cardstock and pencil, draw the outline of the body using simple shapes
  2. Erase overlapping lines to create compound shapes
  3. Refine the face, underwear and other details
  4. Colour as desired
  5. Cut around the doll confidently but carefully (clean edges make for great-fitting clothes)

Did all the drawing descriptions make you shudder a bit? Doh get frighten. Here’s an easy tutorial to unlock your inner DaVinci.

Making Clothing

When designing clothing items, think about how the garment will adhere to its wearer. No adhesive will be used; rather, paper tabs [included in the garment’s construction] will be folded over the doll’s edges to hook around the silhouette.

This means that loose-fitting pieces may not always work the way we’d like.

To make an outfit, follow the steps below:

  1. Place the copy/computer on a smooth, flat surface and hold the doll firmly against the paper
  2. Using the pencil, trace the outline of the doll. Draw outlines only at the points where the clothing is supposed to hug the body
  3. For looser sections of clothing, allow your pencil to leave the doll’s edges and create the shapes you need
  4. Once the outfit outline is complete, remove the doll and draw small square tabs at intervals. Tabs should only be placed at the points where the clothing hugs the body
  5. Colour as desired
  6. Cut around the edges [and tabs] of the outfit
  7. Place cut out clothes over the doll, fold all of the tabs over and dingolay! He/She’s ready to go!

Feel free to make any amount of outfits you’d like. If your children are anything like mine, you’ll lose a couple of them before the doll even leaves the room.

Nifty Ways to Involve the Children

Depending on the age of the child, you may need to champion the “heavy lifting”, such as drawing the doll outline, drawing the clothing outlines and cutting. Even still, there’s much for the child to do (to keep them out of your hair for a fair amount of time).

Even young children can colour the dolls, their underwear and their clothes however they wish (my four year old likes to put shaky stripes on everything). The real kicker is the playtime that follows!

Let them be or join the game; either way it’s a win for the craftsy after-school project team.

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